When it comes to biodiversity and natural beauty, the Hutt River area between Northampton and Port Gregory is home to a few hidden gems.
There are still large pockets of remnant vegetation on breakaway country that have never been cleared for cropping for a number of reasons, including the occurrence and prevalence of the natural 1080 poison plant (Gastrolobium sp).
Consequently, there are a number of declared rare or priority plants scattered throughout the local area, and botanists continue to look for threatened orchids in the region.
Right in the middle of this area is Graeme and Gail Hopkinson’s property – ‘Glenorie Farm’ – which they purchased about eight years ago and now run a mixed farming enterprise with a focus on cattle.
In August 2016, they were contacted by their local NACC NRM Officer to see if they were interested in fencing-off part of the bush on their property under NACC’s Biodiversity Program Habitat Fencing Incentive project.
Graeme responded that he had a block just perfect for the project – with fairly good bush that needed fencing. After a first inspection it was clear that this block had some really special flora.
“Walking around the block in the middle of the wildflower season was very spectacular, and I would not be surprised if there would be some priority species in that bush,” said Marieke Jansen, NACC NRM Officer for the Northampton area.
“I’m hoping that I can come back next season with Graeme and Gail and a botanist, and learn more about what species are actually hidden there in the bush.”
Graeme said “The timing of this project was just right. We needed to upgrade our fencing as we do run a few sheep, and to keep them out of the bush helps both the landholder and the environment.”
“The kids helped us to put the fence up during school holidays, so it was a bit of a family affair.”
This project is proudly supported by the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.
DID YOU KNOW?
1080 is a potent poison that occurs naturally in the Western Australian genus of Gastrolobium plants. All except for two of the more than 100 species of Gastrolobium are native to Southwest Australia, where they are known commonly as ‘poison peas’. Gastrolobium growing in this region are unique for their ability to concentrate poisonous fluoroacetate from low fluorine soils.
While brush-tailed possums, Bush rats, Western grey kangaroos and many other species native to Southwest Australia are capable of safely eating Gastrolobium plants, however livestock and other introduced animal species are highly-susceptible to the poison. As a result, 1080 can be used effectively to manage such feral animals as foxes, rabbits and cats with minimal impact on our native fauna.
WARNING! – 1080 (or sodium isofluoroacetate) from Gastrolobium plants is highly toxic and great care must be taken when handling it. It is classified as a Schedule 7 poison and can only be purchased from licensed retailers and used by authorised persons.